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Public Statements

30-Something Working Group

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Location: Washington, DC


30-SOMETHING WORKING GROUP -- (House of Representatives - December 07, 2005)

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Mr. RYAN of Ohio. I look at this like your homework when you are in school, and your teacher gives you some homework. The homework is due next Thursday. You have got to have X, Y and Z done. And, you know what, if it is due on Thursday, most kids will do it on Wednesday. Right? That is just human nature. And I am thinking that maybe we need to tell the Iraqis, your homework needs to be done by May. Okay? And it better be done.

If you do not tell them the homework needs to be done by May, then they are not going to do it. So if it is indefinite, there is no end in sight, that is not what the American people want.

Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Speaker, I feel a little bit funny talking about this, because I listened to the gentleman from Iowa (Mr. King) who is now in the Speaker's chair. I guess he cannot respond because he is in the Speaker's chair.

So I will try not to be too critical. But when I listened to him talk about the war earlier this evening, our Republican colleague, I just think there is a lot of confusion on the Republican side about what the goal is.

And I think what the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. Ryan) said and my colleague from Massachusetts (Mr. Delahunt), they are getting to it.

When I listened to the gentleman from Iowa (Mr. King), it was almost as if on the one hand the enemy was Saddam Hussein, but then on the other hand, the enemy seemed to be the whole of Iraq and all of the Iraqi people.

Now my understanding of this war, I mean, I did not support it, did not vote for it. But my understanding, when the President articulated it, was that we had this dictator, Saddam Hussein, who was basically keeping his people down. He was a dictator. He was not expressing their will.

And once we got in there and got rid of him, that the people were going to welcome us with open arms and feel liberated. Yet I saw a poll yesterday that was done by a British outfit, that said that something like 70 or 80 percent of the people of Iraq thought that we should not be there anymore. 40-something percent thought it was fair to physically attack American troops because they were occupying Iraq.

And so, you know, my feeling is when you get to the point where most of the Iraqi people who we were there to liberate feel that we do not belong there, or even to the point where even the majority are willing to take shots at us because they think that we should get out, then I think we have lost sight of what our purpose is.

And my big contention is that we need to get out in order to achieve victory, because if victory means an Iraq with stability, and where the insurgents do not hold sway, that is not going to happen because we are viewed as an occupying power. That is not going to happen until we leave.

So an exit strategy is important. It seems to me if you want to achieve a victory in the sense that you want to have a stable, Democratic Iraq, I do not see how you have that as long as we are there and the insurgents keep using us as the theme for them to continue to oppose our presence.

But I want to get back also to this whole culture of cronyism, and the other thing that the gentleman from Florida (Mr. Meek) mentioned. I think that the problem that the Republican leadership has is partially ideological, but also partially corruption in the sense that, you know, if you look at what they do, a lot of it is because they are sort of captured by their own ideology.

Victory means that we have to stay indefinitely until every Iraqi likes us. You know, on the other hand, the reality is that more and more of the people do not want us there. So they got into this idea of what victory means or what success means, and they just do not want to break from it. They are not looking at what is happening practically.

I see the same thing happening here on domestic issues. In other words, you know, tomorrow we are going to vote on this tax cut, which primarily goes to the wealthy and to the corporate interests. Right? The theory behind the tax cut, the ideology is that, you know, if you give everybody a tax cut, that is going to spur the economy.

The reality is the economy is not doing that well. The people are complaining all of the time to me about the loss of jobs overseas. They do not have pension.

They do not have health care, good jobs, good benefits.

Mr. RYAN of Ohio. They have been saying this for 5 years about this tax policy. They have.

Mr. PALLONE. On the one hand they are stuck in their own ideology which is that the tax cuts for the wealthy and the big corporations are going to grow the economy, but on the other hand they are also stuck in this ideology in what they are trying to do legislatively, because they know that this helps their political cronies.

They are trying to help the big special interests. They are trying to help the corporations. They are trying to help wealthy people at the expense of the average guy. They make cuts in programs that help the average person like student loans, like Medicaid and housing and all of the other things that my colleague from Florida mentioned.

They do not care about the average person, not only because their ideology says that that is not what they should be doing, because they should be cutting taxes, but also because helping the average person does not put any money into their campaign coffers. They are not looking for a $5 donation from the guy next door. They are looking for the big donation in their campaign coffers from the big corporate interests.

That is what this is all about. So they mask what they do by saying that somehow it is the right thing to do. It is not practically speaking. It does not work. We are getting further into debt. The economy is not improving. The Iraq war is getting worse. We are spending more money in Iraq. We have no money for domestic programs.

They justify it by saying, well, this is the conservative or Republican way to do things. But it just does not work. It does not work for the average person. It does not work for America and our goals as a country. And at the same time, they do it because it helps them politically because they get more campaign money from the pharmaceuticals, from the defense contractors, from the Halliburtons, from the Bechtels, from all of these groups.

So the American people have to understand that this is not working. It has got to be changed. And the only answer is essentially when the election comes next year, you got to throw these guys out. You got to bring back a Democratic majority that is going to work for the average person, that is going to have an exit strategy for Iraq, that is going to be worried about the debt so we do not go further into debt.

As my colleague says, you know, we can certainly work with the Republicans. We are not saying that we cannot. But this Republican leadership is hell bent on helping the wealthy, helping the corporate interests at the expense of the little guy. And we just see it more and more every day. And tomorrow is a perfect example of it with this.

We pass this budget that cuts all of those domestic programs and help the average man. And we are using those budget cuts to fund tax cuts for corporate interests. I yield.

Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. Your reference to what their philosophy is with pursuing this tax reconciliation, this tax cut package tomorrow as not being a conservative philosophy.

I will commend to you our colleague, the gentleman from California (Mr. CARDOZO's) comments, who is one of the leaders of the Blue Dogs. In his special order last night, with the gentleman from Arkansas (Mr. Ross), it is the politics of Scroogeonomics, because as we approach the holiday season, what they are doing and what they are engaging in, the Republican leadership is engaging in, Scroogeonomics.

We can only hope that tonight, as many of our Republican colleagues' heads hit their pillow, we can only hope that they are visited tonight by the ghost of Christmas past, because that is how we are going to ensure, it is probably the only way that we will ensure it, through a visit of the ghost of Christmas past, that they are shown what the essential ramifications are if they actually move forward and pass this proposal, the cuts to child support, enforcement, the cuts to food stamps, the horrendous cuts in financial aid that they just handed down a couple of weeks ago in the budget reconciliation, Budget Cut Act.

Now tomorrow they want to give tax cuts to people who are in the top two-tenths of 1 percent of the wealthiest Americans.

We are not making this up. This is factual. That is who the vast majority of these tax cuts will go to. What is unbelievable in this Scrooge-onomics proposal of theirs is that they actually have the audacity to call the budget reconciliation act the Budget Deficit Reduction Act when you have got $50 billion in budget cuts in that and then tomorrow they are going to adopt, hopefully they won't, hopefully we will have enough of our colleagues visited by the ghost of Christmas past and they will have their consciences tweaked and they will vote ``no'' tomorrow, but then tomorrow we could potentially adopt $70 billion in tax cuts. I just helped my first graders with their math homework, but even they could figure out that that adds $20 billion to the deficit, $20 billion in which we already have $27,000 for every man, woman, child and newborn baby in this country. That is how much each of us owes.

Mr. PALLONE. The thing that is amazing, I know you were sort of hinting at the holiday analogy there, I cannot help, this is the 2 weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, or Hanukkah, too. I cannot help thinking of the analogy. I try not to necessarily throw religion into the debate.

Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. I was referring to the holidays.

Mr. PALLONE. But think about the sort of Christmas analogy. We all talk about religion, and certainly Christianity, I am a Christian, preaches about how you are supposed to help the poor and help the downtrodden, and here we are in the holiday season cutting programs to the poorest people, the victims of Katrina, their health care under Medicaid, their housing, their ability to get food stamps or food programs. Then I also think about the manger in the story of Jesus and his birth, there is the idea that the family went around and they couldn't find a place that would take them, they couldn't find housing and so they ended up staying in the manger because there was no place else to go. That is how I feel. You read about these housing cuts and I feel like this is like Mary and Joseph and Jesus walking around, they can't find a place to sleep and they have to end up on the street. What happened to this whole idea of Christian values or religious values? It is like thrown out the window at the very time when most people are thinking about it.

Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. When you are talking about your faith, my faith, I am a member of the Jewish faith, our faith talks about the spirit of Tikkun Olam and giving back to our community and thinking of those who are less fortunate. We are referring to the party that claims to corner the market on faith-based values. If you look at every aspect of their agenda, there is not a component of their agenda that has anything to do with what our faith traditions teach us or with values or with making sure that the least of us and the least among us are assisted. We are supposed to be their voice. If you had listened to the religious leaders who have come to this Capitol and talked about how abominable they think this proposal is, both the budget reconciliation bill and the tax cut package tomorrow is, then you would know that they do not have the moral high ground in this debate whatsoever.

Mr. MEEK of Florida. The gentlewoman is 110 percent right. I would say, and I will even give credit to some of our colleagues on the Republican side, the few within the conference, that agree with making sure that we carry ourselves in a responsible way. In the hour before, we were going to talk a little bit about responsibility and you are talking about responsibility. You are talking about a social and leadership responsibility that we have in the People's House, or what is supposed to be the People's House.

The gentleman from Massachusetts talked about decisions that have been made here in the past and now in the present. When you have a bad idea in many cases, when you start off by saying, like, for instance, a leader can say, I was wrong, or I wasn't quite on point and I'm willing to work with others to make sure that we reach the goals that we set out to do in the first place. What is happening now, Mr. Speaker, the Republican majority and the White House, it is like we don't even want to meet with you. We have conference committees where we have members on this side, ranking members that are saying, I didn't even know that the conference committee was meeting because they are not even notified. That is what is going on. This is not fiction. It is fact.

I just want to point out just a few things real quick. Third-party validator on the action that is supposed to take place tomorrow. I just want to make sure that the Members get this. Economic Policy Institute, www.epi.org. They can get in their office and pull this up. It is the report that is noted, ``The Bottom That Wasn't.'' The economy has little to show for $860 billion in tax cuts, mainly to the billionaires and millionaires.

It goes further back and I want people to pay very close attention to page 12. I just want to make sure that the Members pay attention to page 12 and I think they can read it for themselves. They can pull this up on the Web. You want to talk about responsibility? One of the most respected Members of this House, Mr. JACK MURTHA, stood up and said that things are not as they say they are in Iraq.

Our troops, and we just returned back from Iraq, are doing everything that they can do. We met with the 1st Cav. We went to Camp Victory. We went on to Mosul and a couple of other cities within Iraq. We heard time and time again, yes, we are here but we are here on our third and second deployment. Let me just put on my Armed Services hat here for one second. For us to look at a redeployment strategy, and Mr. Murtha is right. He has the President running around here giving four and five speeches every week on trying to justify why we should be there and how we should be there. One leader in the Senate, the Democratic leader, Mr. Speaker, in the Senate said, we need to take the training wheels off the Iraqi government and let them know that our military has delivered. Our military has allowed them to be able to have elections come the 15th of December. But no one is talking about the fact which we learned sitting down not only with our military leaders in Iraq but also sitting down with the Iraqi leaders to find out that this parliament that is going to be elected, this governing council that is going to be elected in Iraq, including a prime minister, will not be seated until March of 2006. So folks talk about, oh, December 15 is going to be a wonderful day. They are not going to even get seated, have their power, until March. I guess the Potomac two-step will kick in again. First it was when we get the security forces to the point, and we have to watch the math here when you start talking about this. How many people do we have trained? You hear one number. That number was combat troops, not police combat units. Okay, you have to talk about the interior ministry that has a whole other police force. Only one brigade or two brigades and we have handed this area over. The bottom line and what Mr. Murtha is saying, for us to be able to allow other countries to become a part of this effort that we set out on, we have to allow them to be a part of it. We are saying we have it.

Tony Blair, the number-one ally, Mr. Speaker, in this war in Iraq, has already said to his country that

we're out next year. Period. Done. Not any of this, it's dependent on the training of the troops or it's dependent on how well the parliament and the new government that is in place, it's all dependent on this, that and the other. He said, We're out next year. Period. Our troops are coming home. That is the message to the Iraqi government that they have to get their act together. It would be okay if it was an international effort in putting money into Iraq, but what the President is saying, he goes down to New Orleans and gives a speech a week after the storm that we will rebuild New Orleans. Meanwhile, Time, Newsweek, you name it, every major periodical, be it daily or weekly, special reports have said that it is not happening.

We are telling Louisiana, hey, you have got to come up with $300 billion to make it happen. They don't have any money right now. The bottom line is that just because they say it does not mean it is true. Mr. Murtha, third-party validator, had a press conference today and eight letters that he gave to the press and to the American people. The thing that makes Mr. Murtha so credible in this argument, ladies and gentlemen, is the fact, Mr. Speaker, that he is the ranking member and was the member of defense appropriations and he knows where the bodies are. He knows the Potomac two-step when he sees it. It is not about the fact that everyone likes him in this Congress. We all love Mr. Murtha. But the bottom line is that he can deliver the message. The real issue instead of the administration and the majority running around here trying to discredit a decorated Marine, trying to discredit someone that has stood with the military foot and toe, someone that wrote letters, the first letter about Kevlar and making sure that our troops have what they needed when they didn't have it and discredit him, they should be trying to sit down with him and others and talk about a bipartisan plan that we can allow other countries to come in under a NATO force and that is what is going to happen after we say, okay, this is our strategy, we want to let the Iraqi people know our military is the number-one military on the face of the earth. You give them direction as it relates to what we want to do policywise, they will do it. They will train. They will make sure the people are in place. But as long as we sit there and say, We're not going to stop until complete victory and we don't know what complete victory is, you have to be precise. It is not even leadership when someone is vague and we are spending billions of dollars in Iraq. I think it is important when we start talking about folks carrying out the responsibility they have to carry out.

Whichever way you look at it, there are Republicans that are saying, Yeah, we need to figure out a redeployment plan, but no one wants to talk about redeployment as it relates to getting our troops out of harm's way. Meanwhile back at the ranch here in this country, we have mothers and we have fathers and we have those that are seeing their loved ones, especially if they are soldiers in the Army, that are being deployed for 12 to 16 months. Think about that, in your third deployment. I left for 5 days and it was like I was gone for a year from my family. Think about the person that leaves and you don't see them for 12 months, 16 months, and every day. I cannot even explain to you of some of the phone calls. I cannot even start explaining to you some of the phone calls that I receive from mothers and from daughters and from husbands saying, I cringe every time the news report comes over the television, three more U.S. troops, 10 more U.S. Marines. And we are still here saying, We're here until we carry out complete victory. You have got to talk about responsibility.

Mr. PALLONE. Just real quickly, you started off saying about how we just don't get the true facts from the Bush administration. It is so true. You listen to the President and you would think that the war was going well and everything is getting better. But we had the 10 Marines that were killed this week. The number of casualties now, we figure by the end of this year, is going to be the highest year ever. The number of casualties keeps rising. The President made a statement the other day about how the economy is getting better. We have lost more jobs in the 5 or 6 years that he has been in office than any President since, I guess, Herbert Hoover. And I don't know who he is talking to, but when you go back to New Jersey and you talk to people, the jobs keep getting lost, the factories keep closing down, the jobs that are replacing them are not as good as the previous ones. That is a big problem is that this administration simply does not present the facts and they just make up stories about what is really happening in Iraq and in America. I appreciate your comments. I just wanted to add that.

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